A Chinese psychological clinic has been ordered to compensate a 30-year-old gay man for administering hypnosis and shock therapy to "treat" his sexuality in what is believed to be China's first case involving so-called conversion therapy.
The Xinyu Piaoxiang clinic in southwest Chongqing was ordered by the Haidian District People's Court in Beijing on Friday to make a payment of 3,500 yuan ($560) as compensation to Yang Teng for costs incurred in the therapy, lawyer Li Duilong said, adding that the clinic was also asked to apologize and stop the "spurious promotion" of "homosexual therapy."
Teng said he was "very satisfied with the results, which I didn't expect. The court sided with me, and it has supported that homosexuality is not a mental disease that requires treatment."
In February, Teng voluntarily decided to undergo therapy after being pressured by his parents to marry and have children, the Associated Press reported. In 2001, China declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder, although no laws outlaw discrimination against sexual minorities, and same-sex partnerships are not recognized.
After completing the therapy, Teng sued the clinic for causing physical, emotional and mental damage through electric shocks and hypnosis.
Even though the clinic claimed that the electric shocks were intended to make Teng heterosexual, the court ruled that there was no need to administer shocks because homosexuality was not a disease and did not require treatment, according to The Telegraph.
In a rare victory for the country's fledgling gay rights movement, the verdict was described as "an historical moment" by Geng Le, founder of gay forum Danlan.org.
"This is the first case of its kind and victory will have deep social meaning," he said. "This is the first clear, positive description of homosexuality in the legal area ... future cases of this kind will be easy to judge, considering this case is ruled in Beijing, the political capital of the country."
The verdict will help gay rights advocates to urge clinics in halting such treatments and persuade parents not to pressure their gay children to undergo therapy, Teng said.
"Someone needs to step up because we must stop such severe transgressions," he said.
Although Teng had asked for damages and a public apology from Baidu, an online search engine which advertised the clinic, the court dismissed a lawsuit against the company.
Since the case, however, Baidu has removed the advertisements from its search engine.
Meanwhile, the court ordered the verdict to be published in major Chinese psychological journals at the clinic's expense.